What the streets of the South West looked like on day one of the Covid lockdown

  • A look back at deserted towns and cities across the West Country on day one of the first lockdown

March 23 marks two years since Boris Johnson first introduced national lockdown restrictions as coronavirus surged through the UK.

On the first year anniversary, all four UK nations found themselves in another lockdown following a surge in cases in early 2021.

While cases continue to fluctuate, England has now dropped all of its restrictions.

Here, we take a look back at the day the first lockdown was imposed in the West Country - as workers were sent home, businesses closed and travel was banned.

In pictures

Police on patrol in Park Street, Bristol, to ensure people are following the latest restrictions. Credit: PA
Police speak to drivers in Bristol as part of routine stops to check people are not travelling unncessarily. Credit: PA
A council worker disinfects a bus stop in central Bristol. Credit: PA
Police speak to people exercising in a local park in Bristol. Credit: PA
A composite image showing shoppers in Bath on March 11 (top) and March 24 - the day after the lockdown was imposed. Credit: PA
A 'stay at home' warning sign on display on the A367 on the way into Bath. Credit: PA
Police stop motorists on the outskirts of Plymouth to check they are abiding with the latest restrictions.
Halifax staff stand on an empty high street in Plymouth city centre.
Exeter city centre pictured after restrictions were announced.
An Asda delivery truck in Bristol. Credit: PA
Closed signs at The Anchor pub on Gloucester Road in Bristol. Credit: PA
Chalk on a pavement on an estate in Bristol referencing social distancing measures. Credit: PA
A man wearing a face mask walks past a shop in St Pauls, Bristol. Credit: PA
Signs allowing only one shopper at a time in a store in Bristol. Credit: PA
An empty platform at Bristol Temple Meads train station. Credit: PA
Residents at Wapping Wharf take part in a clap for the NHS. Credit: PA


  • 23 March 2020 – First lockdown announced

The Prime Minister tells people they must stay at home, and should only leave for essential reasons such as buying food and exercising once per day.

He calls Covid-19 “the biggest threat this country has faced for decades”.

Boris Johnson announced the first lockdown in a televised address to the nation on March 23, 2020. Credit: PA
  • 10 May – Lockdown restrictions eased

The Prime Minister says people can now sunbathe in parks and exercise outdoors more than once per day, as the first restrictions are eased.

  • 1 June – First pupils return to school

Pupils in reception, Year 1 and Year 6 are allowed to return to the classroom for the first time in three months.

  • 4 July – Pubs reopen as more restrictions eased

Lockdown restrictions are eased across England, and holidays are allowed to an initial list of 73 “travel corridor” countries.

Pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers are allowed to reopen.

  • 12 October – Regional tier system introduced

Liverpool City region is the only area placed in the top tier - tier three - with people banned from socialising indoors.

The Government hopes the tier system will mean the country can avoid a second national lockdown.

  • 31 October – Second national lockdown announced

Boris Johnson pictured during a press briefing on October 31. Credit: PA

The Prime Minister announced a four-week national “circuit breaker” lockdown. Pubs, restaurants and non-essential retail are all forced to close again.

  • 2 December – Lockdown ends and is replaced by strengthened tier system

The tier system returns, with more areas placed in tier three. A fourth tier is added later in the month, as a new variant of Covid-19 spreads rapidly in London and the South East.

  • 19 December – PM cancels Christmas

With the new variant now running rampant in the South East, the Prime Minister cancels plans for Christmas bubbles for around 18 million people living in the South East.

Everyone else is told to spend just a day with family, rather than the initially proposed five.

  • 30 December – Most of country moved to tier four

Almost 80 per cent of the population is now in tier four as the new variant spreads beyond the South East, meaning lockdown measures are essentially in place for the majority of England.

  • 4 January 2021 – PM announces third national lockdown

Schools are forced to shut again, along with pubs, restaurants and non-essential retail, as people are once again ordered to stay at home.

  • 15 February – Hotel quarantine introduced

Anyone travelling to the UK from a country on the UK’s travel ban list is required to quarantine in a government-approved facility for 10 days.

  • 8 March – Schools reopen in England

Under step one of the PM’s roadmap for leaving lockdown, children return to school. Boris Johnson says: “Classrooms are the best place for our young people to be”.

  • 12 April – Non-essential retail and outdoor hospitality reopen

People take part in a socially-distanced exercise class on The Downs in Clifton, Bristol, in April 2021. Credit: PA

Under step two of the roadmap, non-essential retail businesses, including hairdressers and gyms, are allowed to reopen, alongside hospitality venues which offer outdoor service.

  • 17 May – Outdoor limit increase to 30 and indoor Rule of Six returns

Pubs and restaurants reopen indoors and sports stadiums allowed 10,000 capacity.

International travel reopens under a traffic light system.

  • 14 June – Lockdown easing in England delayed by four weeks

Step four of the roadmap, planned for 21 June, is delayed four weeks to allow more people to receive the vaccine - as the variant causes a new spike in cases and becomes the dominant strain.

  • 19 July – Most remaining restrictions lifted

Nightclubs reopen, as cases decline to a relatively flat level with vaccines taking effect.

  • 8 December – PM announces move to Plan B

Measures are announced as the Omicron variant begins to spread rapidly. Face masks to become compulsory in most public indoor venues, other than hospitality

  • 15 December – Covid pass introduced in England

England follows Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland by introducing the Covid pass, requiring adults to share vaccination or test results to enter venues.

  • 18 January 2022 – Return to Plan A

PM announces England will return to Plan A with Omicron cases falling.

Plans are unveiled to remove self-isolation requirements by 24 March at the latest.

  • 24 February – Covid rules scrapped in England

All Covid rules are scrapped in England by the end as part of the country’s plan to “live with the virus”.